It’s no secret that Christmas is the most pricey time of year. But it’s also totally possible to do Christmas on a budget!
In this post, I want to share 17 Christmas money saving hacks to help you have festive fun on a shoestring.
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Christmas on a budget: 17 ways to save money this Christmas season!
1. Make gift baskets
Gift baskets can make a super frugal but thoughtful gift. It often works out cheaper to put together a basket of small presents than buy one big present.
Gift baskets can make a big impact, especially if they’re nicely presented and you’ve clearly put some thought into curating the basket, so people won’t think about the cost.
Gift baskets are an especially good way to save money on Christmas presents for a family or couple. You can make a basket for the family to enjoy together, which saves on buying separate gifts!
You can put whatever you want in your basket, but I especially like themed baskets because they show you’ve put extra thought into it.
Here are some examples of inexpensive themed Christmas gift baskets you could put together:
- Family games night basket – a board game, snacks, soft drinks, paper and pens
- Movie night basket – DVDs, popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows
- Baking or meal kit basket – all the ingredients to make a special treat, plus a nicely hand written recipe card
- Sweet tooth basket – a collection of somebody’s favourite sweets and snacks
- Pamper basket – body lotion, face mask, bath bomb, scented candle, nail varnish
As you can see, the individual bits and pieces in these baskets are fairly cheap, but it’s the thoughtfulness and presentation that make them a special present!
I found this video with some more ideas. The video’s American so we might not be able to find all the same bits and pieces here (I’m in the UK), but she has some great ideas for presentation and making your baskets look more fancy!
Pound shops are also good for the actual basket, and decorations such as festive bows. You can also just use a cardboard box and cover it with wrapping paper.
Here are some more frugal gift ideas!
2. Use cashback sites
Cashback sites are one of my biggest money saving hacks for any time of year. But you especially need to be using them around Christmas!
I check TopCashback every time I do any shopping online. If the shop you want to buy from is a partner of TopCashback, you simply click through from the cashback site before shopping as normal. Then you get cashback of anywhere up to 10% or more on your order!
Seriously, cashback sites are so easy to use, so if you’re not using them for your Christmas shopping, you’re missing out.
3. Make extra cash
Saving money is great, but have you thought about boosting your Christmas budget by earning extra money to spend on Christmas this year?
There are loads of ways you can make extra money for Christmas, from survey sites and selling online to a few things you probably haven’t heard of.
I’ve collected all my best tips for making money for Christmas in this post, so click through and get inspired!
Even if you think you’ve left it too late to earn extra money, you haven’t. I also have this post on how to make money fast, which lists all the fastest paying sites and apps.
Don’t get into debt this Christmas when you could be making extra money instead!
4. Get free Amazon cards
Amazon cards are almost as good as free money when it comes to Christmas shopping!
My personal favourite at the moment is the JobSpotter app. It pays you to snap pictures of job adverts in shop windows. You can cash out at any time (no minimum threshold), and they will send you an Amazon voucher by email the same day.
At the moment there are loads of job adverts around for Christmas temps, so get on it!
5. Give IOUs or date ideas as presents
IOUs can be a cute and fun budget Christmas present idea that doesn’t cost a penny.
Spend some time thinking of activities you’d love to share with your partner or family member. These could be free activities (going for a walk, giving a massage, a free museum exhibition or a board game night at home) or pricier activities that you can do later in the year when money isn’t so tight (going out to the cinema or on a day trip).
Write them all out on bits of paper and tuck in a nice jar or box.
The person you give the present to gets to pick out activities throughout the year. Perhaps you could make one a month, or even one a week?
A free but thoughtful gift idea that’s also great for relationship building!
6. Meal plan
If you’re doing Christmas on a budget this year, it’s essential to plan your food shopping.
The supermarkets are full of so many tempting treats and special offers this time of year, and it can be easy to spend more than you need to if you aren’t strict about your list!
To avoid this, write out all the meals you’ll be catering for this Christmas, then look up recipes and write out the exact ingredients you need for each one.
You could also consider doing an online shop instead of going to the supermarket. This makes it easier to stick to your list and avoid temptation!
7. Use the MySupermarket app to plan your food shop
Once you’ve got your meal plan, you can go the extra mile by checking the cheapest place to buy your ingredients.
I love the MySupermarket app for this. You simply enter your shopping list, and it will compare across 15 different supermarkets and tell you where is cheapest.
This is a great money saving tip that you can use all year round!
8. Skip the turkey
Yes, for some of us it doesn’t feel like Christmas without a turkey. But if you’re doing Christmas on a budget this year, consider serving chicken or another meat instead.
It’s much cheaper, and if you’re cooking for a smaller group, there’ll be less waste.
I also recommend checking the Muscle Foods site for great savings on meat.
9. Check Zeek for cheap gift cards
Zeek is a website for buying and selling gift cards at a discount. I often check Zeek before buying something expensive to see if I can save money by getting a cheap gift card.
At the moment, they have some great bargains including 11% off Urban Outfitters and 12% off Space NK.
And you’ll get a free £5 credit if you sign up with my link!
Of course, you could also buy gift cards to give as presents themselves, but bear in mind that a lot of them are electronic so you only get a code rather than a physical gift card to give.
Also remember Zeek in January in case you receive any gift cards you’re not likely to spend!
10. Make a list… then shop online
I do most of my Christmas shopping online these days, and I found it saves me a lot of money.
That’s because it really helps resist the temptation to impulse shop!
The shops are so full of exciting items around Christmas, and of course they really know how to promote things too. This means you’re bound to come away from a shopping trip in town with more than you set out for.
Spend some time planning what you want to buy for each person, and how much you want to spend. Then stick to your list – and budget – online.
11. Always check for voucher codes
Before you start your shopping online, let me share another amazing Christmas money saving hack – the Pouch app!
Pouch is a browser add on that automatically searches the web for any discount codes or special offers for the site you’re shopping on.
It’s popped up with a discount code for me several times when I wouldn’t have bothered checking otherwise.
12. Home made cards
Christmas cards can be pricey, but if you have a little spare time you can make your own and they’ll be much appreciated!
This is also a great budget Christmas activity to do with kids.
This video has some simple and cheap ideas that you could make with basic craft supplies around the house:
13. Do a Secret Santa
If you have a large group of friends, family or colleagues to shop for, consider pitching the idea of a Secret Santa instead. This way each person only has to buy one present. It saves money and can also be quite fun, trying to figure out the perfect gift in secret and then trying to work out who gave what!
There are sites like this one to help you match up the participants randomly.
14. Plan travel in advance
If you’re travelling by train this Christmas, be sure to plan in advance. Rail travel is expensive enough at the best of times, let alone peak holiday times.
Luckily, there are a few money saving tips for train travel.
Firstly, check if you qualify for any rail cards. If you’re travelling with another person, look into the Two Together card. It doesn’t have to be your partner or family member. The card costs £30 but you save a third so you can often save the price of the card on one long journey.
Also, look into rail splitting sites which find you cheaper tickets by splitting into short journeys instead of one long one.
15. Find eBay bargains
If you’re doing any Christmas shopping on eBay, use Fat Fingers to find listings with spelling mistakes in the title.
They usually don’t get many bids because they don’t show up in search results. This is especially handy if you’re looking for designer brands.
16. Use Chip to save without realising
It might be a little late to save for this Christmas, but you can take some serious pressure off next year by starting to save now.
My favourite way to save without stress is the Chip app.
Chip connects to your bank account and moves small amounts over to a separate savings account every few days. The amounts it moves are so small that you barely notice them, but they quickly add up!
Also, the amount it saves is based on your account balance and spending habits – so it often save more just after payday, and less at the end of the month.
Of course, you can pause or save at any time.
You can also increase your interest rate by adding friends (my code is V0FQ4X!) so you can quickly get much better interest than other bank accounts have at the moment.
If you start using Chip in January, you could have a savings pot of several hundred pounds, stress free, to use for next Christmas.
17. Use price comparison sites
If you’re doing Christmas shopping online, don’t just buy from the first site you find. Idealo will compare the price across the web and show you the best place to shop.
Do you have any more good ideas for saving money at Christmas?